Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Actions Opposing Tuition Increases Begin at UC Santa Cruz

On November 18, students at UC Santa Cruz held the first in what is planned to be a series of actions opposing the tuition increases recently proposed by University of California President Janet Napolitano, which the UC regents voted on and passed during their meetings this week in San Francisco. UCSC students mobilized to attend the UC Regents meeting today, and on Thursday they are planning a "day of action" on the Santa Cruz campus. Now that the tuition increase has been approved, UC tuition and fees could increase 5% a year for the next five years. "We need to take a stand and send a message that the UC can't treat us like their personal cash supply, raising fees on us whenever they need more money. The issue is state disinvestment from higher education and the gross mismanagement of funds by the regents. The only way that we can show them that we won't just let them do this to us is to turn out in numbers and organize in opposition to them," an event announcement for the rally stated.

Quarry Plaza, UC Santa Cruz.

Approximately 200 students attended the rally, which was held at Quarry Plaza. Students were encouraged to speak, and were given about two minutes each to voice their opposition and to explain how the tuition increases would affect them. Signs were also displayed around Quarry Plaza that detailed some of the major issues of concern, as they relate to the financing of the UC system.

Dozens of students spoke and expressed a diverse range of views.

"The UC Regents are using us as bargaining chips to get what they want from the government," one student said at the rally. "Meanwhile, they are raising the Chancellor's pay."

The student also lamented how the UC Santa Cruz administration had created a housing crisis by enrolling too many students this year. "People are sleeping in the forest, people are sleeping on couches," the student said.

"It's not just the tuition hikes, it's also the rising cost of living in Santa Cruz," the student said. "It's just ridiculous."

One student made the case that the University of California is no longer a public institution. "We pay more into the UC than the state does," the student said.

"So if we are paying more than the state, by what definition is that a public institution?"

The student also pointed out that none on the Board of Regents are experts in education, they are political appointees.

"I just want to point out that fucking Germany has free tuition," another student said at the rally. "Fucking Germany!"

"This is America. We are supposed to be one of the greatest countries in the world and our tuition is so fucked. We can't go to college because it is so expensive," the student explained.

Following that statement, many in the audience shouted out "shame" repeatedly.

The next student to speak continued along those lines. "In my opinion, education should be a right, not a privilege," the student said.

Another student who spoke at the rally said that some of his friends who are international students are now trying to figure out if they should drop out of UCSC and go home, following the announcement of the proposed tuition increases.

One student who spoke expressed opposition to the UC system's investments in fossil fuel companies, which is related to a multitude of injustices for which the UC system is responsible.

"The injustice that is happening on this campus is happening all over the world. It's the same system that is destroying the trees in Upper Campus, that is destroying our ability to go to school, that is destroying our climate. It's all the same system."

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